My brothers and I grew up hunting squirrels, and I still enjoy getting into the woods for a little squirrel hunting in the fall. So, this past week, I found myself heading into a large ravine next to my house.
This was a special hunt because I had my almost-4 grandson with me. Landon, together with his parents and sisters, lives directly across the ravine from us. Landon had never been hunting before, so I wasn't real sure how things would go. I usually go squirrel hunting alone, but Landon had been wanting to go with me and I was quite willing to take him, so here we were.
We parked my old '79 Ford pickup at my shop and took a short walk down an old logging road to where it wasn't quite so steep for Landon to walk into the ravine. This ravine runs north and south for more than a thousand feet to where it opens into Flint Creek. Flint Creek is directly behind our house, but about forty feet below us. This ravine is full of hardwood trees, especially white oaks, which the squirrels and deer love because of the acorns. It didn't take long before I saw a couple of squirrels playing a ways from us. I told Landon to sit still while I crept closer for a better look. I hadn't gone too far before Landon let out a scream and began to bawl his head off.
"What's the matter?" I hissed, trying not to make too much noise.
"I don't want you to shoot the squirrel," Landon sobbed.
"Why not? That's what we came out here to do, to shoot squirrels."
Landon just cried louder and I had to go back and get him. "Stay close to me," I told him, "You're going to have to stop crying. You're scaring all the squirrels away."
"But I don't want you to kill the squirrel!" Landon said.
Just then I saw another squirrel not far away and crept closer to see if I could get off a shot. The squirrel was on the side of a big oak tree just waving his tail up and down. I quickly drew a bead on him and fired. The squirrel, a big red fox squirrel, ran and I fired again. I missed both times and Landon was bawling at the top of his lungs again.
"What is the matter Landon?" I asked him.
"Did you kill him?" he asked.
"No, I don't think so," I said as I searched the ground for any sign of the squirrel.
"Papaw, I don't want you to kill the squirrel," Landon said, "Did you kill him?"
"No, I didn't kill him," I said, "The squirrel was running and I missed him."
"Papaw, I want to shoot the gun."
"You want to shoot the gun, but you don't want me to shoot the squirrel. Are you ready to go home?"
"No, I'm having a good time," he said.
Landon looked up at me. His tear-stained face was just visible under his adult-sized cap.
"What are you going to tell your mother?" I asked him.
"I'm going to tell her I had a good time. I want to go home now."
"Okay, let's walk up this way, it's less steep on this side."
I headed up the east side of the ravine which would bring us out onto my driveway. Landon followed along behind me, but lost his footing on the rocks. He began to cry again.
"Papaw, this is worse than Devil's Den. I can't make it."
I took his hand and tried to comfort him.
"Come on Landon. We are almost out of the woods."
We made our way up the hill and began to walk down my driveway back to my shop. Landon had a tight grip on a couple of my fingers. I think he was using me to help carry some of his weight. As we came around the last bend, he saw my pickup and began to talk again.
"Papaw, the next time we go hunting, I want to shoot the gun."
"Well, I think you're still a little too young to shoot the gun, Landon, but we can go hunting again. I had a good time. Did you?"
"Yes, I had a good time," he said as we pulled up to his house. "I'm going to tell Mother we shot at a squirrel," he said as he ran down the sidewalk to his house.
I headed back to my shop. We had only been in the woods for about 20 minutes, but it had been eventful -- and a blessing, of course!
Sam Byrnes is a Gentry-area resident and weekly contributor to the Eagle Observer. He may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.Editorial on 11/18/2015
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